Organised by the Essex Military Support Association charity, the event raised funds for the Soldier’s Charity and the Essex Air Ambulance. It featured Essex artist Stacey Solomon (former ‘Queen of the Jungle’ and X-Factor finalist) and fellow local singer Charlotte Meldrum, plus the Colchester Military Wives Choir, Portsmouth Action Field Gun Team, and dog and athletic displays. The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire and Hurricane carried out flypasts over the parading troops, and bands added to the military content. It was a day of fun for all the family, as well as a chance to meet and say thanks to the armed forces.
Shuttleworth’s opening show of 2016 offered the chance to confirm how the new display distances would effect the air displays held at this small venue – one which has become renowned for its photographic qualities. Clearly it wouldn’t be the same, but didn’t deserve much of the post-event criticism leveled at it. Like most things in life, it’s what you make of it – so here’s my glass-half-full offering from the day:
Following on from Trooping the Colour, was an ‘altogether’ different event. The World Naked Bike Ride in London is a friendly protest against car culture, pollution and oil dependency, and gives people the chance to prove that the bike is a great alternative mode of transportation for travelling the city. Full or partial nudity is encouraged as well as creative expression, but is not mandatory. The event attracts all shapes and sizes, ages and genders. Groups start at various collection points around London before converging in Westminster and riding a looped route to finish at the Wellington Arch. At both locations covered here – Westminster Bridge and the Wellington Arch – the numbers of cyclists, photographers and general public were so great as to block traffic. Many of the drivers caught up in the mayhem probably couldn’t believe what they were seeing!
The centuries old tradition saw the Colour trooped by No.7 Company Coldstream Guards , with the Royal Family, troops and military bands passing down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to the ceremony on Horse Guards Parade. Upon their return the Royal Family viewed the Queen’s Birthday Flypast from the balcony of the Palace. The Flypast included current aircraft of the RAF, plus a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and was concluded by the Red Arrows – to great cheers from the massed public. The Queen’s ninetieth birthday unsurprisingly attracted a larger than usual attendance, and for once they enjoyed fair- though not ideal – weather which remained dry and reasonably bright. A number of the flypasts of previous years have been affected by low cloud.
The traditional opening airshow of the season at the former RAF airfield suffered a number of pre-event cancellations, but as always delivered a highly entertaining program of flying and ground activities. The unexpected highlights for many were the vintage helicopters, with the Westland Wasp in particular proving to be very agile and a type rarely seen displaying. The following images hopefully illustrate a little of what was on offer to the visiting public.
Local resident Dean Ovel, 39, designed a six foot diameter wooden ‘hamster wheel’ in which to carry out this challenge to raise funds for Southend Hospital Charity’s Dementia Appeal. Starting at mid-day on 21 May, and positioned in Southend’s busy High Street, Dean ran non-stop for 24 hours – only stopping for toilet breaks. Finishing on Sunday 22 May after covering nearly 81 miles, Dean celebrated with his wife, children and supporters. Dean is also illustrated here after 9.5 hours and 40 miles covered in the dark of Saturday evening, still facing a whole night and morning of continuous running.
Dean is hoping to raise £10,000 for the appeal, donations towards which can be made here: Just Giving
‘Fa la la la la la la’
An airshow and fly-in took place at Stow Maries Aerodrome – the most original World War One aerodrome still in existence. The aerodrome opened in 1916 as one of three locally with the aim of protecting London from attack by Zeppelin airships and Gotha bombers. When closed in 1919 after a short period of service the land was returned to agricultural use, but many of the buildings have remained untouched into their centenary. Work has taken place over recent years to restore the structures and produce a museum site illustrating the aerodrome’s wartime existence. A number of replica Great War aircraft are now based here and one of those, a BE2, performed at the event, a type that served here one hundred years ago. The weekend’s weather was changeable but mostly fine, allowing for a large turn-out of visiting light aircraft and a small display programme.
For further events throughout the year visit http://www.stowmaries.org.uk/news/events for details.